Muses by Tom

Youth “witches” killed

Posted in News by Tom on August 25, 2010
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In the dead of the night, a pastor plants his hand firmly on a woman’s head. He screams some chants at her and ultimately casts out the demons within her. She is free of all evil and is one of the fortunate few allowed to keep her life. This isn’t the plot of the newest wanna be horror film, or even Massachusetts circa 1692. This is present day Nigeria.

It’s something you would only expect to see in the most disturbing of movies; many children are being accused of witchcraft and subsequently punished by being cast out and sentenced to death. Pastors in Nigeria claim poverty and disease are caused by witches bringing evil and misfortune upon the community.

One mother recently cast out her two sons and daughter, accusing them of being witches after the premature deaths of two of their siblings. The mother claims her children used black magic.

When a child is accused of witchcraft, he or she is often “thrown into the river, buried alive, or stabbed to death.” said Sam Ikpe-Itauma, who runs Child’s Rights & Rehabilitation Network, an orphanage in Nigeria. CRARN is home to around 200 children, all of whom have been accused of witchcraft and cast out from their families.

If you thought this was bad, it get’s worse. Here is the story of Godwin, a five-year-old child. After the boy’s mother passed away, the church pastor said Godwin was to blame. Even though Godwin denied the accusations, he was still beaten and forced into falsely confessing that he killed his mother. As a punishment, Godwin was locked up every night with his mother’s corpse with very little food or water. Miraculously, a neighbor contacted CRARN and Godwin was rescued and taken to the orphanage. Sam Ikpe-Itauma says many of the children at the orphanage show the physical scars of being beaten, attacked with boiling water, and cuts from machetes.

“When a child is accused of being a witch,” Sam said, “that child is hated absolutely by everybody surrounding him so such children are sent out of the home… But unfortunately such children do not always live long. A lot of them, they’re either killed, abandoned by the parents, tortured in the church or trafficked out of the city.”

The orphanage is struggling at best, and has neither the finances nor the room to grow. Because of this, many children are forced to roam the streets, like fifteen-year-old Samuel.  Samuel says he has been living on the streets for five years after being blamed for numerous deaths in the family and beaten by his pastor. He lives in an abandoned building with 10 other children, also accused of witchcraft.

“Religious leaders capitalize on the ignorance of some parents in the villages just to make some money off them,” said Lucky Inyang, project coordinator for Stepping Stones Nigeria, a local group that visits the abandoned children.

“They can say your child is a witch and if you bring the child to the church we can deliver the child but eventually they don’t deliver the children… The parents go back to the pastor and say, ‘why is it you have not been able to deliver the child’ and the pastor says ‘Oh – this one has gone past deliverance – they’ve eaten too much flesh so you have to throw the child out.'”

Children in single-parent and broken home environments are the most likely to be accused and killed. The state looks down on organizations such as CRARN for tainting the community’s name and image. It would seem the churches are doing a pretty good job of that themselves, though, no? It is in the last 10 years that this extreme superstition has returned and caused mass hysteria in places such as Nigeria.

This kind of thing just blows my mind, not only that such strong superstition is bad, but that innocent children are being put to death by ignorant pastors and stupid parents. I’d really love to hear what you guys have to say about this. Comment, please.

Click here to read the full article and watch a video.